Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 19, 2014

Jump into smart-phone age requires aid from younger generation


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — It was yet another hectic morning in the newsroom. A story was breaking that was news and sports oriented. At 9:45 a.m. I found myself frantically texting Sports Editor Brian Woodson and Sports Writer Bob Redd for background information and possible sources for the story. Since these guys typically work until 1 a.m., they are not always bright eyed in the early a.m. hours. Still, they responded to my texts and provided the needed information.

Then a curve ball. Shortly after 10 a.m. we found out about an interview opportunity happening at 10:40 a.m. I didn’t want the news team to tread on sports turf without a conversation, so I grabbed my phone to give Brian a call.

Tapping the telephone icon on my iPhone, I was surprised when contact information for one of our sales reps was displayed. Attempting to exit the display, I was stymied. The screen was frozen.

“It. Won’t. Work!” I exclaimed, frantically jabbing the phone with my index finger. New reporter Anne Elgin noticed my distress.

"You may need to turn it off, then back on,” Anne, also an iPhone user, replied helpfully. “It does that sometimes.”

Embarrassingly, I looked at my phone then back at Anne. “There’s an ‘off’ button?” I asked sheepishly. “Where would that be?”

Without a word, I handed my phone to Anne as she gave me the look I am sure she gave her mom when teaching her how to text. “See ... here,” she said, showing me where the button was located and walking me through the turn-off-and-on-your-phone procedure.

Often I feel old. At other times, positively archaic.

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I am part of a unique generation. One who remembers primitive telephone technology from the early 1970s, yet attempts to embrace today’s smart phones and their many apps and functions.

Regrettably, I am not so sure I am making the transition smoothly.

As a child, our home had a party line. For the benefit of younger readers, it’s important to note these were not the same type of “party lines” one currently sees advertised on late-night television. Party lines were shared landlines among two or more households in the same neighborhood. Simply put, one could pick up the phone and hear a neighbor’s phone conversation with friends and relatives.

Fortunately, party lines went the way of the dinosaurs and landline telephones enjoyed a decade or two of stability. Then came cell phones, and a cultural shift of tsunami-sized proportions.

My first cell phone was a Valentine’s Day gift from the husband. It was huge, ugly and a novelty in the newsroom. As I headed to lunch during my first day of cell phone ownership, my purse started ringing. It was a new and foreign experience. Frantically I attempted to fish the phone out of my handbag with no success. Soon, I was on my knees in the parking lot dumping the contents of my purse onto the pavement.

Little did I know that my cell phone callers were then-Business Editor Theresa Cutlip and Lifestyles Writer Kathy Kish. They were watching my antics from the conference room window and getting a good laugh.

Nowadays, the iPhone usually stays in the pocket of my jeans or is glued firmly to my palm. And why not? It’s sleek, pretty and fits in perfectly with the plethora of phones and gadgets found throughout our newsroom.

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On this recent hectic morning, Anne hands the phone back to me in perfect working condition. I quickly call Brian, and we sort out coverage of the breaking story.

I must pause here to give props not only to Anne, but also Lifestyles Editor Jamie Null and News Editor Andy Patton. We all own the same type of cell phone, and they have been more than helpful in guiding me through the changing technological landscape.

Scratch that. It’s not so much “guiding,” as poking, prodding and pulling me into the modern era. And in all honesty, I have taken advantage of their knowledge. Instead of learning to use my phone, I simply hand it off to them when there is a problem, trusting in their youthful, whiz-kids skills.

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It may be Jan. 19, but it’s not too late for a New Year’s resolution. In 2014, I vow to learn to use my phone to its fullest capabilities, as well as all its fancy-schmancy applications, programs and holier-than-thou functions.

I will learn about AirDrop and syncing and, perhaps, one day know how to back it up in “the iCloud” — all the while hoping the cloud has a silver lining staffed with extra IT support.

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Speaking of technology, there seems to be a bit of confusion about the Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s new Total Access subscription plan. To clarify, if you subscribe to the print edition of the Telegraph you have free access to all our digital products, including bdtonline.com and our e-edition (a complete electronic version of the daily paper).

Your subscription account number is needed to activate digital access (if you don’t have it, just give our circulation department a call). Digital access can be activated at bdtonline.com. If you are not tech savvy, take a cue from me and ask one of the younger folks in your family for help or contact us at 304-327-2802 and we will walk you through the process.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.